Visiting L-300-50A StarLifter


United States Air Force C-141 StarLifters were fairly common visitors to Australia during their seemingly short service life. However, there was one StarLifter visitor which deserves special mention. This was the sole civil L-300-50A (MSN 300-6110) N4141A which visited Australia as the Lockheed company demonstrator in August 1966. It is not immediately clear who the aircraft was being demonstrated to but it did remain in Sydney for several days awaiting parts for a damaged undercarriage.

There were no civil orders forthcoming so in 1974, the aircraft was delivered to NASA's Ames Research Center who operated it as N714NA out of Moffett Field, California. Fitted with a 91cm telescope, it was dedicated as the Gerard P. Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) on 21 May 1975. The telescope was used for infrared astronomy at altitudes up to 45,000 feet. The aircraft was retired in 1995 and replaced by the SOFIA Boeing 747SP. Although withdrawn from service, the StarLifter was still intact at Moffett Field as recently as 2011.


L-300-50A StarLifter N4141A at Mascot, Sydney on 27 August 1966.
Picture: Eric Allen
L-300-50A StarLifter N4141A at Mascot, Sydney on 27 August 1966.
Picture:
Eric Allen
L-300-50A StarLifter N4141A at Mascot, Sydney on 27 August 1966.
Picture:
Eric Allen
L-300-50A StarLifter N4141A at Mascot, Sydney on 27 August 1966.
Picture:
Eric Allen
L-300-50A StarLifter N4141A at Mascot, Sydney on 27 August 1966.
Picture:
Eric Allen
NASA's N714NA at Melbourne, Tullamarine in March 1977.
Picture: Mike Madden (M158)
N714NA with revised NASA markings at Melbourne, Tullamarine in July 1994. The aircraft flew several sorties to observe the intersection of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with the atmosphere of Jupiter. Picture: Peter Gates Collection (AH011)
As a reminder of what most of them looked like, this is C-141A 65-0277 at Brisbane on 27 February 1978. Picture: Ron Cuskelly (M375)

 

 

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25JUL19
Original issue.



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